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Courtesy of Abrams and Chronicle / ©Slim Aarons

The Best Fashion And Style Books To Buy This Year

Picture of India Doyle
India Doyle
Fashion Editor
Updated: 30 August 2017

Londoners are a famously stylish bunch, and there’s no reason why your reading material shouldn’t reflect this. Whether you want to refresh your coffee table arrangement, find style inspiration or buy the perfect present for fashion lovers, Culture Trip’s selection of fashion books to buy this year will provide a sartorial solution.

American Style And Spirit

American Style And Spirit chronicles the not-so-ordinary lives of the Roddis Family between 1850 and 1995, using clothing, letters and ephemera from their lives to immerse readers in the family’s rich, varied and, until now, unexplored history. From the prosperity of the 19th century to the restrictions of Great Depression; the transition from Atlantic crossings by boat to plane; wartime experiences and the aftermath, through to contemporary life and its many demands; this magnificent survey of three generations of Roddis women and their families certainly encapsulates the changing times of American life. “Every object held a thread of continuity with the past” notes Jane Bradbury in her preface, and by using the Roddis’ wardrobes to tell a wider story, American Style and Spirit demonstrates fashion’s ability to liberate and inspire even in the darkest of times, leaving readers with such gems as this: “What makes a brilliant party? Clothes. Good clothes. A frumpy party is nothing more or less than a collection of badly dressed persons.”

Pret – A – Portea

The Berkeley Hotel has debuted its first fashion recipe book, and it’s as fabulous as you might expect. Featuring Anya Hindmarch, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, DVF and Louboutin, amongst others, in Pret – A – Portea Head Pastry Chef Mourad Khiat introduces a delicious new twist to high fashion. Highlights include the Charlotte Olympia-inspired ‘Bootie Biscuit’ – which is also relatively simple to make, so perfect for first-timers – and the iconic Moschino McDonalds handbag, which you are invited to recreate as a delicious sponge cake. Delicious and decadent: this is a cookbook for fashionistas looking to take their style kudos to the next level; the time and effort will be worth it when you produce a plate of Giambattista Valli strawberry sugar spun rolls.

Slim Aarons: Women

Slim Aarons: Women, a new book from Abrams, is as seductive on the outside as the photographs it holds within. The design is more than fitting for a photographer who, after the horrors of the Second World War, decided that he would focus on capturing the attractive and glamorous elements of life. Much like Dior’s New Look, Slim Aarons’ channeled a bright, decadent and often fantastical vision of the world, focussing his lens on women, a central subject of Aarons’ career. A pioneer of the “environmental portrait”,  in which subjects were photographed in their houses and exotic holiday homes, Slim also took iconic portraits such as Kings of Hollywood, Jackie Kennedy at the April in Paris Ball and the Richard Neutra house in California. This new book offers these, and many more, and readers will delight in seemingly candid shots of icons such as Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe. With a lengthy and insightful introduction from his long-time assistant, Laura Hawk, this book immerses views in Slim Aarons’ “idealised vision of the good life”, offering “a continual retelling of his romanticised notion of life and leisure – and by extension, his notion of consummate feminine beauty.”

Valerie Cates in Marbella, Spain, 1976. (Photo by Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Valerie Cates in Marbella, Spain, 1976. (Photo by Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Fashion in Film

This new fashion book celebrates the clothes that have contributed to cinema’s most iconic moments, establishing a clear divide between costume and fashion. Written by Christopher Laverty, the book gives context and insight into how the looks came to be, and analyses what made them so memorable. Fashion in Film leads with designers, ensuring that readers come to understand how the work of each creative or label has permeated cinematic moments throughout the contemporary film canon. Fendi’s use of fur, for example, spans from the 1974 Conversation Piece to adorning a melancholy Gwyneth Paltrow in The Royal Tenenbaums. Other highlights include a spotlight on the use of Bill Blass’ work in films such as Devil Wears Prada and The Butler, alongside Givenchy’s memorable designs that appeared in some of the great films of the century: Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Bonjour Trsitesse. This is a must-read for those who want to fall in love with their favourite films all over again.

Style Tribes: The Fashion of Subcultures

“Style is a language, a philosophy, an identity. It is a reaction, provocation, rebellion, expression.” This is how Garbage’s Shirey Manson introduces Style Tribes: The Fashion of Subcultures, the new book from Caroline Young. This sweeping book chronicles 100 years of style, investigating how fashion across the centuries has influenced and embodied culture of the time. From the Harlem Renaissance through to the Swing Kids of Nazi Germany; covering Beatniks, Disco and Neo-Rockabillies and Sapeurs in between, Young compiles a comprehensive, elegant and engaging survey of the fashions across our times. Highlights include the dapper Rudeboys of 1950s Jamaica and the 1960s surfers, whose style was described by Sports Illustrated as a “massive bikini-clad protest against work, war, marriage and worry.”

EWRAKF Two young people wearing skinhead fashions. Glenda Peake and Tony Hughes. Finchley, 7th October 1969.

EWRAKF Two young people wearing skinhead fashions. Glenda Peake and Tony Hughes. Finchley, 7th October 1969.


Oh So Pretty: Punk in Print 1976-80

“I had spiky soaped hair, charity-shop paint-splattered punk clothes with Dr Martens boots,” begins Toby Mott in his new book Oh So Pretty: Punk in Print 1976 – 80. It’s a look that has become passé, a clichéd depiction of rebellion now mainly offered in Camden Market. However, Mott brilliantly brings punk – real punk, not the poseur kind – to life as he celebrates the aesthetics of the time, looking at zines such as The Secret Public, Sniffin’ Glue, The New Wave Magazine and vintage posters of nights at The Roxy. Throughout the graphics and aesthetics evoke the attitude and style of the punk era, providing ample sartorial inspiration alongside a comprehensive chronicle of the best of punk in print at the height of its time.

This Bearded Life

For the bearded and aspiring beardos alike, This Bearded Life by Carles Suné and Alfonso Casas is a quirky manual for all things beard related. The book came about after the unprecedented success of Sune’s blog ‘No sin mi barba’, which in English literally means ‘not without my beard’. Beginning with the role of beards in culture and society, this beard bible runs through the landscape of facial hair today, offering witty and insightful commentary on bearded types, the existential nature of beards and how to care for the crown upon your chin. At once both tongue-in-cheek and genuinely useful, this is a must for the hairier readers of Culture Trip.

© This Bearded Life by Carles Suné and Alfonso Casas

© This Bearded Life by Carles Suné and Alfonso Casas

Men of Style

“Dressing with a personal style […] requires an appreciation for form, colour, texture and composition; an artist’s perspective, if you like, applied to whatever one picks out of one’s wardrobe each morning,” opens author Josh Sims in this gorgeous new paperback, Men of Style. Sims carefully curates a selection of men over the last century who have made an enduring contribution to the way men dress today. Inside, readers will find insightful anecdotes from the likes of Miles Davis – who credits his mother for inspiring his aesthetic – David Hockney and Tommy Nutter, among many many more. A cultural artefact of the most stylish men throughout history, this is essential reading for fashion inspiration.


Grace: The American Vogue Years

Fashion’s most fabulous redhead, Grace Coddington, is celebrated in a new book: Grace: The American Vogue Years. Inside the sleek, slipcase volume, readers will encounter works by the leading contemporary photographers, including Steven Meisel, Annie Leibovitz, Bruce Weber, David Sims, Mert Atlas, Marcus Piggot, Craig McDean and Steven Klein. From surreal portraits to fantastical collaborations with Tim Walker, the flame-haired creative director imbues each image with lashings of imagination, style and sartorial flair. A must-read for aspiring stylists and long-standing fashion fans.

From Grace: The American Vogue Years | © Alas Pigott, courtesy of Phaidon

From Grace: The American Vogue Years | © Alas Pigott, courtesy of Phaidon

Hip Hop Raised Me

Packed full of specially commissioned photography of hip hop ephemera, alongside incredible images of everything from the b-boys to the current mainstream, Hip Hop Raised Me offers an epic survey of Hip Hop style over the last 40 years by Radio One’s DJ Semtex. Featuring interviews Semtex has conducted from the 1990s to today – including with Jay Z, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Nicki Minaj, Nas, Public Enemy and the Wu-Tang Clan – the book weaves politics, contemporary culture and style to render this new book a complete and immersive survey of Hip Hop.


Pharrell Williams, nerd © Neil Massey